If you can imagine a more entertaining way to spend a rainy day at the Manse in Queensborough, Ont., than cleaning up a 19th-century partially dirt-floored basement – well, clearly you have more imagination than I do. Because really, what could be more fun? It is SO satisfying to vacuum up those ancient cobwebs (and occasional spiders). Not to mention picking up bits of old insulation, cement, foundation stone – all amid a miasma of dust generated from the general activity, including several rounds of sweeping the dirt that was too much for the vacuum to handle. (I realized far too late into the operation that I really should have been wearing a mask.)
I’d been a little intimidated by what I might find when I first ventured down the basement stairs (which are very old, and so steep as to more nearly resemble a ladder than a staircase). Not that I was really afraid of the wolves that were probably there (an old Sedgwick family joke, and if I had real Internet access rather than just my phone I’d link you to it; you can search for “wolves” in the search box and doubtless find it if you care to, though I’ll warn you that it’s not the most side-splitting joke of all time), but in the end there was nothing worse than a couple of big spiders (I dislike spiders) that the vacuum made short work of, and a rather prehistoric-looking salamander-type creature that I called on Raymond to save me from, which he ably and bravely did.
I emerged absolutely filthy – clothes, hair and body – and very glad that I won’t have to tackle that job again for a while.
But since it was still raining, I couldn’t go out and do what now seems, by contrast, a much cleaner line of work: continuing the big annual spring job of raking up the Manse’s large lawn.
So I turned to the second most awesome thing to do on a rainy day at the Manse. I cleaned the oven.
You ask: maybe the Manse’s oven is self-cleaning, like most modern stoves?